Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards from Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman & Partners,
Thank you for your letter of 7 June. I am very
grateful to you for clarifying the position and for setting out
the complaints which you are investigating. While I note that
you say, or imply, that these are complaints of breaches of the
Code of Conduct and Rules you have not indicated what provision
of the Code of Conduct or Rules is complained of in any single
case. While I would accept that this is reasonably clear in the
case of complaints of failure to register payments and other benefits,
it is far from clear what breach is being investigated in other
cases, for example those numbered 15, 16 and 20. The problem is
that you have investigated matters which cannot easily be characterised
as complaints but are rather mere rumours or second hand reports.
I appreciate and am grateful for your acknowledgement
that the matters under consideration are solely allegations and
that you will take no view on whether there is any substance in
any of them until my client has had every opportunity to comment
or challenge any material which you put to him. However, paragraph
2 of your memorandum "The Investigation Process" indicates
that it is not your practice to pursue a matter unless it appears
that an allegation has "some substance". If you have
decided that the 23 complaints which you are investigating all
have "some substance" then I must express my surprise,
especially as you are now saying that you have not yet taken a
view on the matter.
I therefore welcome your confirmation that when
your enquiries are complete you will put to my client any evidence
which you have collected which might appear to be at variance
with his account. It would naturally be helpful so see what evidence
is indeed available to support the 23 complaints or any of them.
I stress that what has been put to Mr Vaz hitherto is not evidence
but consists of allegations unsupported by evidence.
I note that you describe your task as no more
than conducting an investigation accompanied by your view as to
whether any of the complaints should be upheld. However, I note
that in previous reports you have purported to determine yourself
the outcome of the complaint, by concluding your report with the
phrase "complaint upheld" or "complaint not upheld".
I refer by way of example to the reports relating to the Right
Honourable John Prescott MP, Mr Ken Livingstone MP, and Mr Tony
Baldry MP. I accept that it is for the Committee to determine
the penalty if any, but it is plainly a matter of great importance
whether or not a complaint is upheld by you and the highest standards
of fairness should therefore apply to your investigation.
As I suggested in my letter of 25 May, there
is no justification for prolonging any investigation where no
credible evidence has been produced in support of the complaint.
My client continues to be prejudiced by the continuation of the
investigation and is anxious for a speedy conclusion. You have
been good enough to record that he has been helpful and has responded
to all the allegations.
It appears that all that remains is for you
to put to him any substantial evidence which is at variance with
his account in accordance with the first complete paragraph on
page 2 of your letter of 7 June. I hope that any such evidence
can now be communicated so that your report can then be drafted
without further delay.
I am pleased to note that you will provide Mr
Vaz with a copy in confidence of your draft report before you
come to your conclusions. I assume that this means that in accordance
with paragraph 18 of "The Investigation Process" the
Committee has decided that the matters you have investigated are
serious. Can you tell me if the Committee has made such a decision
or whether for any other reason you are treating the matter as
Finally, I enclose a cutting from "Eastern
Eye" of Friday May 19
it claims that Mr Zaiwalla has been cleared of attempting to bribe
my client, the Committee on Standards and Privileges having ruled
that there was no case to answer. As you will see, the article
purports to quote from a letter from Mr Robert Sheldon MP to Mr
Zaiwalla. Plainly if this report is accurate it must follow that
the complaint against my client made by Mr Milne is equally unsubstantiated
and should also be promptly rejected.
I shall be grateful for your response.
15 June 2000
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